Recently, the opening ceremony of the ‘International Year of Millets 2023’ was organised at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome, Italy. In his message to the opening ceremony, PM Modi emphasised for making millets a food choice for the future.

 

Background

  • In March, 2021, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution to declare 2023 as the International Year of Millets.
  • The proposal was moved by India, and was supported by 72 countries.
  • The International Year of Millets will raise awareness about the importance of millets in food security and nutrition.

 

What are millets?

  • Millets are one of the oldest foods, these are the small-seeded hardy crops which can grow well in dry zones or rain-fed areas under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture. Millets are cultivated in low-fertile land, tribal and rain-fed and mountainous areas.
  • Millets can not only grow in poor climatic or soil conditions and provide nutritious grain as well as fodder, but these can also very well fit into multiple cropping systems under irrigation as well as dryland farming due to their short growing season.
  • The prolonged and easy storability of millets under ordinary conditions has given them the status of Famine Reserves and this feature is of great importance for India, as the agriculture of our country suffers from unexpected changes in monsoon.   

 

Millets in India

  • The major millets grown in India are Pearl Millet (Bajra), Sorghum (Jowar), Finger Millet (Ragi), Foxtail Millet (Kangni), Proso (Cheena), Barnyard Millet (Sawan), Little Millet (Kutki), and Kodo Millet. All these are rich in fibre, minerals, and Vitamins. Pearl Millet, for instance, has the highest content of macro as well as micronutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, folic acid, and riboflavin.
  • Many of these are missing in rice or wheat. Scientific studies link millets intake to blood sugar control, reduced inflammation, improved digestion, and lower risk of heart diseases and cancer.
  • Major producers include Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.
  • Over 500 Startups are working in Millet value chain with the Indian Institute on Millet Research. More than Rs.6.2 crores has been disbursed to over 66 Startups while about 25 Startups have been approved for further funding.

 

About Food and Agriculture Organisation –

  • The FAO is a specialised agency of the United Nations.
  • Established in 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has its headquarters in Rome, Italy.
  • It was founded with a goal to provide food security for everyone and assure that people will have access to high-quality food in sufficient quantities to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
  • The FAO has 197 member countries, which includes the European Union as well. It conducts biennial conferences. The FAO Council is the executive arm of the governing body. The members elect the Council which is composed of 49 members.
  • The FAO Council also approved Indias membership to the Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) for 2020 and 2021.
  • World Food Day is an international day celebrated every year worldwide on 16 October to commemorate the date of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in 1945.

 

Functions of FAO –

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is a global organisation and its functions can be listed as follows:

  • Helping Governments and Development Agencies coordinate their activities which are targeted to develop and improve agriculture, fisheries, forestry and other water and land resources.
  • Conducting research and providing technical assistance to various projects related to improving agricultural output and development.
  • Conducting training and educational programs and also collecting and analysing agricultural data to improve yield and production.
  • The FAO also brings out a number of publications/reports, some of which are, the State of the World, the Global Report on Food Crises, the State of Food and Agriculture, the State of the Worlds Forests, etc.

 

About the ‘World Food Programme’

  • It is the food-assistance branch of the United Nations. It is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation addressing hunger and promoting food security.
  • Its efforts focus on emergency assistance, relief and rehabilitation, development aid and special operations.
  • It won the Nobel Peace Prize 2020.
  • Founded in 1961, it is headquartered in Rome.
  • It works closely with its two Rome-based sister organisations, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.